Roughly a month and a half ago I sat at my parent’s kitchen table, home for Thanksgiving, searching for fun and engaging multiplication activities for our upcoming unit. I told myself I wasn’t getting up until I had thought of some way to change up the way my class learns and practices multiplication facts. My school uses Go Math!, and in the past, we used the book for most of the facts, along with activities and games, but I wanted to find something different. After I got thinking, I got working, and I couldn’t stop. The “Winter Express” idea was born, and I was so excited to go back to school and get started!!
I decided to do my very first room transformation. To do the transformation I added some fun winter decorations outside my door and inside my classroom. I used my projector and bulletin board paper to create the train outside my door. Wrapping paper, fake snow, and garland on the inside of my classroom made some nice winter touches!
I wanted my students to come to school the next day excited and wondering what was going on. *PSA, if you haven’t read The Wild Card by Hope and Wade King, do yourself a favor and get reading! You definitely do NOT have to do this room transformation. If you’re not able to spend the extra time on a room transformation, please don’t! As teachers, we spend enough time at school rather than with our families. I ordered a cheap conductor hat, whistle and watch off Amazon and wore clothes I had. When students (and teachers) walked by me, their faces were priceless! My class was so excited.
The next day I projected the welcome slide on the board and asked students a few at a time to go find their ticket from the ticket booth. (Insert excited laughs, screams, etc) I explained that I was the conductor of the Winter Express and we were going to be making different stops each day. While making those stops, students were going to complete different multiplication activities for each fact. I chose to do 2 stops a day because the booklets typically take 15 minutes each to complete (with some taking more/less time). This gave me enough time for a mini-lesson and a few other tasks or assignments each day along with the booklets.
The first day was AMAZING. My students were excited, on task, and I was thrilled. When they completed the booklets, I had the kiddos turn them in, and I punched their “ticket” for that stop. My students then kept their ticket for the remainder of the Winter Express.
I wondered what my students were going to think of the booklets. I tried to include different multiplication activities for them to work on, some games and coloring, but each booklet also included a page for them to use their strategies for an equation. Students had to find multiples, then represent an equation using an array, equal groups, repeated addition, and the commutative property. I was a little worried to get some groans about that part, but nope! My students really loved it! Even the kids I was expecting some behaviors or complaints from were totally into it. “So, Miss Predatsch, are we making stops tomorrow too?” “Are we making stops today?!” SCORE.
I ended up checking most of the booklets in the beginning and getting worse and worse at keeping up with it toward the end. When I do this next year, I will have thought of a good system for keeping track and checking the booklets 🙂
I am so happy I did something a little different this year. If you are thinking about changing something, no matter how small, I encourage you to do it! There are tons of resources out there to spice things up, and a little dressing up never hurt anyone either! If you feel silly getting into costume, I totally understand. I felt kinda silly, but my students’ faces were 100% worth it.
Have you done a room transformation? If not, are you willing to? Let me know in the comments!